Colorful sassafras

I love autumn, especially watching the magic as leaves change colors. On a recent walk at our local arboretum, this patch of leaves on a sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) grabbed my attention.

Sassafras leaves in October

The brilliant leaves were back-lit by the sun and reminded me of stained glass. Our parade of fall colors has definitely begun and I look forward to watching its progress.

Lunar eclipse

I have no desire to travel to the moon. However, I thoroughly enjoy watching its phases with my feet planted firmly on the earth. This was my view of the eclipse this morning – October 8, 2014 at 6:45 a.m. Eastern time.

Partial eclipse of moon

It was a total eclipse about ten minutes later, but by then it had disappeared over our neighbors’ house.

The concept of the earth passing between the sun and the moon, and me being able to see the earth’s shadow, is almost more than I can grasp. However, I was glad for clear skies, pleasant weather, and a chance to observe another special celestial event.

My mother, who died nineteen years ago today, enjoyed watching the night sky and would have appreciated this sight. I’m very grateful that she shared her love of nature with me; it’s been a big influence in my life.

Banded Tussock Moth caterpillars

Harry and I recently visited Natural Bridge State Resort Park. It’s a bit early for autumn color, and getting late for many insects. I wasn’t sure what we’d see, and I was glad to find several different caterpillars.

This is a curled up Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar (Halysidota tessellaris). I’m guessing the arrangement of the stiff spines discourages predators, and I’m intrigued by the design. At first glance, it’s hard to tell it’s a caterpillar.

Curled Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar

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